drafted before finishing high school

My wife claims her dad was drafted (WWII) out of high school before he graduated; and was therefor not able to finish his schooling. As with anything that doesn’t make sense to me, I was suspicious :dubious: of this claim. Is there any evidence that this took place?

Did people get drafted out of highschool before they graduated. (I’m talking normal 17-18 year olds…not someone who dropped out and got drafted or some other unusual situation like a 22 yr old purposefully failing or something)

Unlikely, but possible. The Selective Service and Training Act of 1940 applied to men 21 and up. After Pearl Harbor, it was dropped to 19. But early on, drafting was done by local draft boards who had a quota to fill. It is possible that your FIL got nabbed by an over-zealous draft board before he finished high school. But this was not common by any means.

Of course, he might have enlisted voluntarily, and then told your wife he was drafted.

In 1942 my Dad was a senior at an all male college. As part of the post Pearl Harbor frenzy they were released, with diplomas, in January instead of June so that they could join up. (The school finally had a graduation ceremony for them at the 50th class reunion in 1992.) A bit of googling indicates Dad’s school wasn’t unique in getting kids out the door ahead of schedule during WWII.

During WWII there was no student deferment. Students were classified either 1D (fit for general military service) or 1E (fit for limited military service).

The GED testing program was initiated during WWII to accommodate soldiers and veterans who hadn’t been able to finish their high school education.

One of my teachers at the Maritime Academy was a 1st class Midshipman in 1941. He was at home on Christmas leave when he recieved a cable frome the Academy that all leave had been canceled and he was to report the next day to begin testing for his Thirds licience.

By mid war it was taking one year to complete the three year course, take the Thirds, and graduate.

I don’t have an answer but your observation seems very plausible. The only thing is that it used to be “oldest first” under the cutoff age which normally was 26. I wasn’t alive at that time so rules could have gotten wildly interpreted and applied at that time.

As to my bolding, I can just imagine a bureaucratic screw-up where the Manhattan, Kansas draft board gets the quota intended for New York County (the borough of Manhattan). “Sign up 10,000 guys a month.” The next thing you know they are dragging kids out of Junior High.

OT, but in 2000 or so my high school had a very nice ceremony where they gave diplomas WW2 veterans who dropped out to enlist voluntarily. Not sure why they waited long enough for me to witness it… We also had a memorial board with a list of the killed in action in WW2 and other major wars, and I am pretty sure these were people who enlisted while high school students as opposed to just alumni.

Not casting aspersion or anything , but could the words judge and choice been anywhere in that conversation.


During World War II, you were eligible to be drafted when you turned 18, and many high schoolers were. You could appeal to the local draft board for a temporary deferment until you graduated high school, but that wasn’t guaranteed. Besides, most young men were willing to fight. There were Nazi subs off the East coast, Japanese subs off the West coast, and saboteurs all around. Your country needed you and damn the diploma.

After the war, the GED program was created to help vets get an equivalent for a high scholl diploma (a requirement for a good paying job back then). Many colleges dropped the requirement for a high school diploma and allowed vets to start taking classes without it.

After World War II, the New York State Board of Regents started a program that allowed vets to get college credit for military courses. This later expanded into the Regents College Degree Program (again, mainly aimed at Vets – this time Vietnam vets) which has become Excelsior College.

Something along the lines of, “After the young man was convicted, the judge said, ‘You have a choice: go to prison or join the Army’”? :dubious:

According to my grandmother they had a special assembly to listen to President Roosevelt declare Congress in war on the radio. Afterward over have the boys in the senior class got up and marched out the the auditorium right down to the recruting office (which had lines interfearing with traffic).

As I recall, you had to register for the Draft (Select Service) at age 18. Because I moved around so much as a kid, a new school at least every year, twice I lost a half grade. So, I would have been 18 before even starting my senior year, and by then men were being selected for active service pretty quickly.

So, they let me do a concentrated schedule, and I finished HS in three years. I went into active Army duty shortly after my birthday.

I’ve heard of that happening in the Vietnam era…

As have I. Didn’t know if that was what Declan was driving at, though.

Sometimes that works. I had a friend in high school that couldn’t stay out of trouble. Always doing stupid crap. He had a bad attitude back then. He got one of those join the army speech from the judge. The military helped him adjust that bad attitude. :smiley: Amazing what a kick in the ass will do. I saw him at a high school reunion a few years ago, and he had retired with over 20 years service and had a good job as a civilian auto mechanic.